The dining experience that Newk’s customers know and love won’t be changing, but guests of the popular fresh-casual restaurant chain will soon see a new logo on signage, printed items, and marketing materials.

Additionally, the restaurant will be changing its name from Newk’s Express Café to Newk’s Eatery. The change marks the first revamp to the brand’s name and visual identity since the original restaurant opened in 2004.

“Our logo is a symbol of our promise to customers, so it was important to us to make these changes to reflect our continued commitment to offering the highest-quality food and dining experience,” says Chris Newcomb, founder and CEO of Newk’s Franchise Company. “After eight years, the Newk’s brand is maturing. We think this updated branding is an indication of the great direction where our company is headed.”

The first rebranded restaurant opened April 8 in Plano, Texas. Newcomb says restaurants will begin upgrading their signage over time, but guests began seeing the changes reflected in marketing materials and printed items such as cups, napkin rings, and to-go bags earlier this year.

Newcomb says the company’s corporate structure will remain the same and there will be no changes in ownership, operations, or the menu.

The new brand logo was created by Maris, West & Baker, an award-winning advertising agency that is based in Jackson, Mississippi.

Newk’s hopes to have all restaurants updated by 2015, and new locations opening next year will feature the new name and logo from the start.

Newk’s is also progressing its brand digitally by expanding its social media presence. While the corporate office has managed Facebook and Twitter pages for years, individual franchise owners will now have the option to take ownership of their own Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Newk’s Eatery provides a fresh-casual dining experience and features a variety of made-to-order choices, including fresh-tossed salads, oven-baked sandwiches, California-style pizzas, made-from-scratch soups, and homemade cakes baked by Newk’s Bakery Company.

A selection of wines by the glass and beer is also available at select locations.

Since opening its first location in Oxford, Mississippi, in 2004, Newk’s Eatery has expanded its presence to 11 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Newk's has 52 restaurants open, 45 of which are franchised. Five new restaurants opened in 2010, 15 in 2011, and seven in 2012. Projections call for 15 restaurants to open in 2013.

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Design, Growth, News, Newk's Eatery